Yamato Dancing on a Hot Plate
Yamato? Not the legendary battleship but a leading mover - Yamato Transport Co. The company is reportedly in a fix over how to handle fast-increasing home-delivery cargo. Data show the company delivered over 1.8 billion pieces of home delivery cargo last year - an increase of 7.9% over the previous year. The figure was the highest ever for the company.
Yamato finds the plate too hot to dance on and is looking for measures to ease the stress - including an option of raising charges for redelivery,
Yamato's home delivery service handled over 1 billion pieces for the first time in 2003 and doubled the volume in 15 years since.
According to NHK, president Hiroshi Nagao of Yamato Transport Co. comments:
"It was all due to a rapid growth in the volume of cargo by customers delivering huge quantities. We will have to ask certain customers to cut down on their volume of cargo to the level we can handle."
Last year Yamato had a labor problem at one of its branches in Yokohama over unpaid overtime salary. The incident cost Yamato a citation from the Labor Standards Inspection Office. President Nagao comments in reference to the case:
"We are undertaking a thorough, nationwide survey on the working conditions of outside duty staff e.g. drivers and fixing whatever flaws uncovered."
Further on the immediate problem of home delivery, Nagao elaborates:
"Home delivery was initially a system whereby individuals send cargo to individuals but that is not the case anymore. The individual-individual ratio is less than 1% of the total volume.
"Now, the system serves businesses - meaning the entire fare system calls for reassessment."
Ironically, though, Yamato has invited the problem to its own disadvantage by deliberately promoting the home delivery system itself over the years. The fact remains an aggregate 1.8 billion pieces of cargo are being moved to and fro.
The problem is rather pressing for the logistics industry to find some quick remedy for. (Nathan Shiga)